Ambode/Kadle beLe vade

Ambode(deep-fried chana dal patties) is a quintessential accompaniment in a traditional iyengar meal for any rice dishes like puLiyogre, mango rice etc.I had been planning to make it for a long time but the thought of deep-frying, had been putting me off 😉 With an Ugadi potluck planned, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make this,  with step by step instructions from mom who makes the best ambode!

As with any Indian dish, this can be made with a lot of variations. I personally like to make it with mint. You can also use cilantro, dill (sappsige soppu) if you like the strong aroma, onions can be added( being a tam-brahm, I consider it a sacrilege to add onions to this dish :D). The trick to making crispy ambode is to not let the chana dal  soak longer, one hour of soak time makes the crispiest ambode!


Ingredients : Serves 8-10

3 cups chana dal. (Soak for an hour)

5-6 red chilies ( Use half bydagi and half guntur)

1 packed cup mint leaves, washed and chopped finely.

1 pinch hing

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 table spoons shredded fresh coconut

2 table spoons dry coconut (koppari)

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon ghee (optional but recommended)

3/4 – 1 liter oil for frying

In a blender, finely powder the chilies, fresh and dry coconut. Add turmeric, salt and hing. Next drain the chana dal completely using a sieve and transfer it to the blender. Using the pulse option of the blender, pulse the mixture until the chana dal is coarsely ground. Be sure to not grind to a paste, coarse ground dough adds to the crispiness.

Transfer the contents to a mixing bowl and then add the chopped mint leaves, and ghee. Mix thoroughly.

Make lime size balls out of the dough and keep aside.

When the oil in the frying pan is hot and the stove is on medium heat, take the lime size ball of dough and flatten it out into a patty,  making sure the patty is 1/4″ in thickness. Add about 5-6 patties at a time and fry on both sides till golden brown.  Do not fry them on high heat, this makes the outside get brown while the dough on the inside remains under-cooked.

Serve with a full course of tam-brahm meal ;). It also pairs well with ketchup or mint chutney.

AvarekaaLu palya/usli

Avarekai is apparently known as flat beans(I had to google for it!) in English and more popularly known as Surati Papdi in Indian stores in the US. Avarekai always evokes memories of my grandpa and also the erstwhile winters of Bangalore. If you are wondering why I chose the word erstwhile winters, it is a topic for another blog post :). Grandpa loved any dish made out of avarekaaLu! He would bring 2-3 kgs of avarekai from the market and leave it out in the open during the cool winter nights. This would make the avarekaaLu have more “sogadu”. To loosely translate the term into english, it means having a nice fragrance and an oily sheen to the beans. Then came the laborious process of shell the avarkaaLu. Next step was to separate the tender ones which would be used for making akki rotti. The big ones would be used to make saaru, upma etc.

Seeing as the love for avarekaaLu has been passed on through the next generations, I love using them in all kinds of dishes. Once such dish that I learnt from mother-in-law is the avarekai palya or usli. This pairs beautifully with plain akki rotti, puri or if you are little health freak like me, it goes well with chapatis too. I have to make do with the frozen variety here in the US though!


Ingredients: Serves 3-4

1 bag of frozen avarekaaLu or fresh beans from about 1.5 kgs of avarekaai

1 medium bunch methi leaves, chopped (optional but recommended)

2 teaspoons jeera powder

2 teaspoon mustard seeds

2-3 green chillies

1-2 cloves garlic

1 inch ginger

Onion 1 small chopped

Coconut 1/2 cup

Cilantro 1/2 cup chopped

Oil – 2-3 tablespoons

Salt to taste

Grind 1 tsp of jeera, 1 tsp mustard garlic, ginger, green chilli, coconut and cilantro to a fine paste with little water.
In a pressure cooker, heat oil, add mustard and jeera seeds and wait till the mustard splutters. Next add onion and saute.  Add the paste and saute for a minute. Add methi leaves and saute. Next add avarkaaLu, salt and little water if needed. Pressure cook for 3 whistles. Serve with plain akki rotti, puri or chapati.

BaaLekaayi palya/Raw Plantain stir fry

Raw plantain is a cousin to the everyday banana and used often in south Indian households. They are mostly used for making banana chips but other popular dishes include this palya and baLekaayi bajji. Without further ado, here is the recipe for baaLekayi palya. This pairs well as a side dish with rasam and rice.


Ingredients : Serves 2-3

Raw plantains – 4 small, diced into 1″ pieces

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon rasam powder

1/2 tablespoon tamarind extract

1 sprig curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon chana dal

1/2 teaspoon urad dal

A pinch of turmeric

Coconut 2 tablespoons (optional)

Heat the oil in frying pan and add mustard. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add chana dal and urad dal and fry till golden brown. Next add rasam powder, turmeric, curry leaves and the plantain and cover it and let it cook on low heat for about 10-15 mins.

The plantains need a little more oil then other vegetables because they tend to stick to the pan because of their high starch content. So if you feel the plantain is sticking to the sides of the pan, add a drizzle of oil.

Once the plantain pieces are cooked, add the tamarind pulp and toss gently. Once cooked, they tend to break if mixed vigorously.

Garnish with grated coconut and serve with rice and rasam.

Go green!

Go Green!

Green Chana ( chickpea)- Green mango chutney ( Hasi Kadalekai-Mavinakai chutney)Image

This is an easy to make,  irresistible “green “ recipe  to make the next time you have fresh raw green mangoes and fresh tender green chickpeas on hand. Chickpea and it’s tender green version are a great source of protein to add to any veggie diet.  Add to that the tangy taste of fresh raw mango, you have a winning combination.

Growing up, I remember going to the local market and bringing home small shrubs sprouting fresh green chana  and how over casual conversations, we would shell them from the pods and eat them for a great evening snack. This is recipe we learned from my mom’s older sister and is well worth keeping.


1 cup shelled green tender chickpeas

1 cup small raw mango cubes

4-5 strings of Cilantroe

½ cup grated coconut

3 slit green chillies

1” fresh ginger

String of curry leaves, pinch of hing, Mustard seeds,  urad dal and chana dal and oil for seasoning

Salt to taste


Method: Season the mustard seeds, urad dal and chana dal till the dal is golden brown. Then add the grated coconut, fresh ginger pieces and the green mango pieces. In a blender, add the shelled chickpeas and cilantroe. Grind all the ingredients into a coarse paste. Add salt to taste. Tastes great to dip with any appetizer!


Pineapple Gojju

Pineapple gojju brings memories of “baaLe yele oota” or food served on a banana leaf. It is features very commonly on the menu during weddings or other functions in a typical kannada household. I bought a big pineapple and didnt know how to finish it. I had been wanting to try it for quite sometime now and this was a perfect opportunity. Dont skimp on the coconut while making this recipe, that is what gives it that yummy taste!


Ingredients : Serves 4

Pineapple : half, cut into chunks

Dried coconut (koppari) : 1/4 cup

Red Chillies : 4-5

Curry leaves : 1 sprig

Poppy seeds/ gasagase : 1 tablespoon

Urad dal : 3 tablespoons

Hing : 1 pinch

Turmeric : 1 pinch

Oil : 3 table spoons

Mustard seeds : 1 teaspoon

Heat a few drops of oil in a saute pan and add the urad dal, chillies, hing, coconut and poppy seeds. Roast them till the urad dal turns golden brown. Grind all the mixture with water into a smooth paste .


Heat the oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the pineapple pieces and add about 1/2 cup of hot water. Let the pineapple chunks cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the paste and let this simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and taste it. Depending on the sweetness/tartness of the pineapple add a few spoons of jaggery powder and tamarind pulp to adjust the taste.


Enjoy with steaming hot rice and some peanut oil!

Ragi Upma

Ragi or finger millet used to be considered the poor man’s grain back in the day. Off late grains like finger millet, foxtail millet and quinoa are gaining more popularity because of their low glycemic index and fiber content. These foods are slow to digest and don’t spike blood sugars thereby keeping you full for longer!
I try and substitute these for rice and use more of these grains in our daily diet.

Ragi upma is an unusual dish and has been a long favorite of mine! This is a very hearty breakfast and easy to whip up especially on a lazy Sunday morning.

Ingredients : Serves 2

Ragi flour : 2 cups

Rasam powder : 1 tablespoon

Jaggery : 1 heaping tablespoon

Tamarind paste 1 tablespoon

Water : 1 and half cups

Curry leaves 1 sprig

Peanuts 1 tablespoon

Oil 3-4 tablespoons

Mustard 1/2 teaspoon

Urad dal 1 teaspoon

Chana dal 1 teaspoon

Turmeric 1/2 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Grated coconut 1-2 tablespoons



Mix together ragi flour, rasam powder, jaggery, tamarind pulp, salt with water and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Next add the peanuts and fry for a minute until they begin to brown. Then add the urad dal and chana dal and fry till golden brown. Add the turmeric and curry leaves. Add the ragi mixture and still continuously on low flame. Cover with a lid and let this cook for 10-15 mins until the ragi begins to disintegrate and for small clumps. Serve hot with yogurt on the side.

Methi-Paneer Paratha


Methi- Paneer Paratha

There is no better food to come home to than fresh home made parathas. Parathas are a great way to incorporate many ingredients into one ( spices, veggies). Also if you have picky kids in the house like me, this is a great way to pack in calories.

Ingredients: Makes about 8 parathas

For the filling:

Paneer grated 1 cup ( Use can use mozzarella cheese instead)

Methi leaves 1 cup chopped

Ajwain seeds 1 tbsp

Garam masala 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

For the dough:

Wheat flour ( atta ) 4 cups

Oil 2 tbsp

Salt to taste

Mix the atta, salt and oil to form soft dough using luke warm water. Set aside for 3-4 hours. Make small tennis ball size rolls of the dough. Using a polling pin, flatten the dough into 8” circle, ¼” thick., occasionally dusting the dough in the flour. Place the filling in the center of the circle. Cover the filling all around with the dough and flatten it. Again using the rolling pin, flatten the dough out into the same size as before. Cook both sides on medium low flame. Serve with a dollop of butter! Enjoy with pickle and raitha.

Badanekai Hasi Gojju ( Sweet and sour eggplant dish)


Writing this blog after a long hiatus! Feels good to be posting a traditional family recipe that my mom and her sisters consistently make. It s a quick and easy way to make Baingan without the fuss of oil, frying etc…this tangy sweet and sour recipe will tickle your taste buds for sure!

Ingredients: Serves 4.


Rasam powder – 1 tbsp

Tamarind paste – 1 tsp

Jaggery – 11/2 inch cube

Shredded coconut

Green chillies – 3-4


Curry leaves

Hing – 1 pinch

Oil and mustard for seasoning

Method: Slit a medium size eggplant into 4 pieces. Steam cook it for about 15 minutes. Once the vegetable becomes soft and mushy, drain the excess water and keep it aside. Squeeze the eggplant into small bite size pieces using your fingers.

In a separate bowl, using very little water, dissolve the jaggery. Add the tamarind paste, chilli powder to the jaggery water and mix this with the crushed vegetable.

(Tip: You can use the same water that is left behind from the vegetable after you steam it, so as to reatin the nutritional value. )

Then sprinkle the shredded cilantroe and coconut.

For the seasoning, heat oil in a shallow pan. Add  mustard seeds till they splutter. Then add the curry leaves, slit green chillies and a pinch of hing. Garnish over the eggplant and toss it in gently. Enjoy with rice or rotis!

Unde huLi/ Nucchina unde/ Steamed lentil dumplings

This is a very traditional dish of Karnataka and a very healthy recipe as it is full of proteins and it is steamed. Unde means dumplings or balls, huLi is the term used for the kadi or the majjigehuLi or the mor Kozambu that accompanies the dish.  There are two variations of  the dumplings. One is the Tam Brahm version with no onion and garlic and the other one has both. The recipe gives both variations. The kadi that is traditionally made with this uses coconut, toor and chana dal. It is the same recipe as mor kozambu minus the vegetables.  But I have an easier no fuss version here!




Ingredients : Serves 3-4

Lentil dumplings

1 and half cup toor dal

1 table-spoon chana dal

1 table-spoon moong dal

4-5 red chillies ( or use 2-3 green chillies )

1/2 ” piece of ginger

2-3 tablespoons of shredded coconut

1 cup finely chopped dil leaves or soppsige soppu ( or use coriander )

Salt to taste

Pinch of asafoetida or ( 1 cup finely chopped onion )

Soak the dals for about 4 hours after washing thoroughly. Grind the coconut and red chillies to a fine paste. To this add the dal and pulse the mixture. The mixture should be coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped dil or cilantro. At this stage add the hing or the chopped onion. Add salt and mix well. Steam this mixture for about 10-15 minutes. Once the mixture is cooled, shape the mixture into dumplings. Some people prefer to make the dumplings first and then steam it. But sometimes they end up cooking unevenly. I prefer to steam the mixture and then make the dumplings. This is a tip I got from my mom!

Kadi/ Majjige huLi

2 cups thick yogurt

2 tablespoons besan or chickpeas flour

1/2 ” piece of ginger

1 cup chopped coriander

A few sprigs of curry leaves

A pinch of turmeric

A pinch of hing/asafoetida or ( 2 small cloves of garlic )

Salt to taste

Mustard, cumin seeds and oil for seasoning

Beat the yogurt and add the chickpeas flour and bring this to a simmer. Add a cup of water if the consistency is too thick. Grind the garlic, ginger and cilantro to a fine paste and add this to the yogurt. Add turmeric, curry leaves and salt to taste. Let this boil for another 5 minutes.

Temper the mixture with mustard, cumin seeds. If using hing, add the hing to the oil at this point.

Serving suggestion : Add the kadi to a bowl and then add the dumplings to this. This allows the dumplings to absorb the flavour of the kadi and it tastes even better!





PadavalaKai Kootu/ Snake Gourd Dal

If you haven’t seen or heard of a snake gourd before, you can check it out here. This dal can be served with rice and is a typical iyengar recipe. As the curry blends with the steaming hot rice, it releases all the aromas of the pepper, cumin and hing. The heat of the pepper is balanced out by the soothing effect of the moong dal. Ah traditional cooking was so much of a science!


Ingredients: Serves 4

Moong dal- 1 cup cooked
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Jeera – 1 tbsp
Fresh ground pepper – 1/2 teaspoon
Shredded coconut – 1/2 cup
Hing- 1 pinch


Pressure cook the moong dal first. Cut the snake gourd lengthwise first into two halves and remove the seeds and the mushy part inside. Then cut the gourd into smaller pieces. Sprinkle some salt on the vegetable and steam it in a steaming basket.
(Some people pressure cook the gourd along with the moong dal, but I don’t since it gets overcooked and loses its nutritional value in the process. Steaming it gives a crunchy taste while preserving the nutrients.)

Dry Roast the urad dal, pepper, jeera, curry leaves,hing and coconut in a shallow pan without oil. Grind this roasted mixture into a smooth paste by adding water.
Mix the cooked moong dal, steamed gourd and the ground paste and allow to simmer for 5-10 mins. Add salt as needed. Garnish with some more cumin seeds spluttered in a little oil/ ghee if necessary, for added taste. Serve with rice or roti.